Township Forums axed

Christmas lights cash has been ring-fenced
Christmas lights cash has been ring-fenced

WIGAN’S Township Forums are being scrapped to save cash.

Axing the 10 bodies – introduced by the former Labour Government as a link between the council and residents – will save the council more than £130,000 a year.

But council chiefs have decided to keep the borough’s controversial Wigan in Bloom displays, with £100,000 spending split across township areas, after a record-breaking year which saw them land 17 awards in different categories.

They will also ring-fence a £50,000 Yuletide pot of cash for spending on community Christmas lights.

The forums will be replaced by bi-annual Community Challenge public meetings, between elected members and their constituents, as town hall chiefs battle to achieve 30 per cent across the board savings.

Most of the Township Forum cash will be saved from the £272,000 wages for their 11 full time staff.

Each Township Forum also had a budget of £20,000 per year to pay for environmental projects and a further £25,000 per year will be saved from Democratic Services costs.

The bodies were suspended from meeting after a decision by the ruling Labour cabinet earlier in the year.

Gillian Bishop, council corporate director of places, said the review had revealed the council needed a “non bureaucratic, lean way” of harnessing the wider local knowledge and intelligence within the community.

But that effective engagement with community groups was now “more important than ever”.

She said: “It is proposed the council formally ends the managed Township Forums and does not replace them with an alternative form of managed locality governance.

“In many areas, there is a capacity and willingness to organise without direct support from the council. Where groups and individuals wish to organise themselves on a geographical basis, that is not a decision for the council to be involved in, and ward councillors in their civic leadership role will be responsible for ensuring these groups are appropriately connected to public sector activity.”

Full story in the Wigan Evening Post (Thursday) ...